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A drill performs core sampling for Tintina Alaska Exploration Inc.

A drill performs core sampling for Tintina Alaska Exploration Inc. in 2011. The company has withdrawn its request to build a controversial decline to explore for copper near the headwaters of the Smith River, opting to do more drilling instead.

The company proposing to build a decline to explore for copper near the headwaters of the Smith River has withdrawn its request in favor of less invasive drilling.

Tintina Resources Inc. said in a news release that it still plans to sample the Johnny Lee Copper Deposit for a proposed copper mine north of White Sulphur Springs. The exploration and proposed mine has been met with resistance by environmental groups fearful that it could pollute the Smith.

“(Tintina) determined that it can gain the necessary baseline information to support a feasibility study and Operating Permit application with less invasive drilling operations during exploration,” the news release said.

Tintina cites a lawsuit filed last month by environmental groups opposed to the decline and building of the mine as the reason for its decision.

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“This decision will avoid the project delay and costs associated with litigating the complaint filed in Montana district court, naming both DEQ and Tintina as defendants,” the news release said.

The Montana Environmental Information Center and Earthworks filed the lawsuit, claiming that the decline went beyond normal mining exploration activities and challenging the depth of the review by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

"We smoked Tintina out with our legal filing over their exploration permit. The company wanted to move forward with the first stages of large-scale mining without undergoing a full environmental review or receiving an operating permit. Now it’s clear that Montana’s famed Smith River is threatened by a large and risky mine in acid-producing rock that threatens our most beloved trout stream with pollution and dewatering,” they said in a joint statement.

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